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The Catholic Church made its own version of Pokemon Go

Can modern tech like augmented reality help religions recruit more followers? 

What it means: Religions can act like businesses in several ways. They’re keen to grow their customer base and convince existing members to stay loyal to their brand by marketing it as better than their rival’s offerings. They invest the money they receive from these customers in infrastructure (places of worship), projects (such as helping vulnerable people) and staff (rabbis, priests, immans etc). And their decline in popularity among certain groups (the rich, the young) has been linked by some to their slowness in modernising and their reluctance to adopt the latest cutting-edge technology.

So the Catholic church has decided to try something new: an app, created by an evangelical foundation and blessed by Pope Francis, which is based on Pokemon Go but involves players finding bible characters and saints. The idea is to get young Catholics more engaged with their religion (less than half of US Catholics attend church weekly), and perhaps even win over some new converts.

Will it work? Maybe. Pokemon Go, and augmented reality (where the fake bits exist within real life, so the app shows you the street you’re walking on with the virtual characters superimposed on it) in general, is extremely popular. Pokemon Go was downloaded 800 million times and made its parent company, Nintendo, $115 million.

Snazzy apps aside, how much money and how many believers religions have can change how our economy looks for all of us, because big religions have a lot of power and influence over society.

Here’s just one example: Islam says you can’t charge interest on loans. (The interest is a percentage of the loan which you have to pay back on top of the amount you borrowed. The longer it takes to pay back your loan, the more interest you’re charged.) That means places with lots of Muslims set up so-called ‘sharia banks’ (which everyone can use). Some people think this is a more moral way of loaning money, because people who are struggling to pay their loan back don’t end up more and more in debt.

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?